Sodium content in foods consumed regularly continues to hog lime light with many countries waking up to the risks inherent in taking sodium-rich diets on the cardiac and kidney health in human beings. It is true that food industry has its own compulsions in resisting mandatory lowering of salt levels in food products manufactured in the organized sector. While sustained pressure on the industry may bring about desired result, how sodium levels can be reduced in home cooked foods is a challenge posing enormous logistical constraints. Campaigns for sensitizing the consumers regarding the ill-effects of salt on their health may work, albeit slowly and it may take years before any perceptible results can be achieved. Food Technologists and the processing industry will have to work in a synergistic way to evolve new techniques, ingredients and product recipes to bring down the salt levels in their products without significantly affecting the organoleptic quality adversely..
"Significant progress has been made in reformulating food products, but considerable challenges remain," said IFT President Marianne Gillette. "Food manufacturers must balance the multiple functions of sodium in food in addition to taste. Changing the sodium content in food impacts microbiological safety, flavor balance and quality, texture, mouthfeel, preservation, color and nutritional properties of a product. Today, there is no single ideal substitute for all the functional properties that sodium chloride provides in foods."There continues to be a need for additional scientific research as noted by the Institute of Medicine in its recently issued report entitled "Strategies to Reduce Sodium Intake in the United States." IFT agrees with the research needs identified by the IOM committee, in particular the need to develop innovative methods to reduce sodium in foods while maintaining palatability, physical properties and safety. In addition, there is a critical need to identify outcome-based public health metrics that are expected to result from any broad based reduction in sodium in foods.
Institute of Food Technologists in the US, the internationally recognized professional body representing thousands of food professionals has thrown its weight behind the move to achieve reduction of salt in processed foods and it is indeed laudable. Other similar professional bodies in other countries like China and India also must take pro-active policy initiatives to help industry achieve the sodium reduction goals in their respective countries as a social responsibility.